Miraculous Dove Blesses the Gospel and the Shepherd

Miraculous Dove Blesses the Gospel and the Shepherdby Chris Banescu –
A miraculous event happened recently in an Orthodox Christian monastery in Crete. As reported by John Sanidopoulos on the Mystagogy blog and documented via multiple photographs (see below), a white dove miraculously appeared during the religious procession on the monastery grounds. The beautiful bird first landed on the Holy Gospel and then perched itself on the head of the Orthodox priest holding it. The dove continued to rest on top of the priest’s hat all the way inside the church.

During a visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the sacred Monastery of Saint John the Baptist on the Island of Crete, a white dove appeared during the procession towards the church. The dove first perched itself on top of the Gospel book carried by the priest. It stayed there while the Ecumenical Patriarch venerated the Holy Gospel.

As the priest walked towards the monastery’s main church, the dove moved from the Holy Gospel onto the priest’s shoulder. Then it flew and rested on the pastor’s kalimavki (a black hat worn by monastics and archimandrites). While the procession continued moving towards the church, the dove remained perched on top of the priest’s hat. [Read more...]

Christianity is Truth, Not a Religion

Christ is Truth Creator God Christianity by Chris Banescu –
Christianity is not just a “religion.” The Christian Faith embodies the most important truths of this life and all human existence which God first revealed to Moses and the other Old Testament prophets. The fullness of that truth was then completely made manifest in the birth, life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “It is the fulfillment of all religions in their search for divine truth and human meaning as inspired by God’s law written on human hearts,” explains Fr. Thomas Hopko.

Our God is the God of the whole universe and all life. His laws and wisdom govern all creation and all matter, seen and unseen. This is why Saint John the Theologian so powerfully declared a truth that shook the very foundations of the world: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:1-5). [Read more...]

Fr. Peter Gillquist – Memory Eternal Faithful Servant of Christ

Fr. Peter Gillquist - Memory Eternal

Fr. Peter Gillquist

by Chris Banescu –
Fr. Peter Gillquist was a loving and faithful shepherd of our Lord. Not only did he bring many in America into the Orthodox Church, but his powerful and public witness to the truth served as a guide and inspiration to many Orthodox. His work helped re-kindle the faith and inspire many cradle Orthodox Christians, like myself and others, to better understand the depth and richness of our Christian Tradition and embrace our heritage with renewed fervor and commitment.

Having been born and raised in the Orthodox Church, I have always known that the Orthodox Faith is the one and only true faith. However, it was not until I read about Father Peter and his flock’s journey of discovery that I truly recognized how much of a priceless treasure it really is. The spark that triggered that awareness and forever changed the priorities of my life sprung from the pages of his book “Becoming Orthodox.”

Fr. Peter’s account of the incredible journey undertaken by the group of American Protestant ministers in search for the New Testament Church shook me to the very foundations of my soul. Here was a group of devout Christians who loved Jesus Christ so much that they dedicated their entire lives in searching for His True Church and in finding a deeper and closer communion with Christ. They did not have the privilege to grow up in the Orthodox Church and partake of its vast spiritual and religious wealth, yet they worked hard, searched steadfastly, and struggled for many years trying to find what was given to me freely. In reading their story I realized just how blessed and fortunate I was to have been entrusted with such a Pearl of Great Price and ashamed of how little I had done with it. [Read more...]

Metropolitan Jonah: Our Battle is Against Secularism

Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly - June 2012

Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly - June 2012

by Chris Banescu –
It is reassuring to the flock when a faithful shepherd preaches Christ and teaches the Truth at every opportunity. It is also uplifting for the laity to see an Orthodox Bishop who publicly and clearly proclaims and defends the unchanging moral teaching of the Christian faith and the Holy Orthodox Church. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, recently addressed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and his comments showed the Church and those listening why he is a worthy leader of the Orthodox Church in America.

In his remarks, Metropolitan Jonah warns us about the radical departure from traditional Christianity we’re experiencing in the West and the dangerous consequences of such actions. He identifies key challenges that Christians face in the increasingly hostile and secularized culture we find ourselves living in and the increasing persecution we will encounter. He also emphasizes the importance of traditional Christian denominations to stand united in opposing such falsehoods.

I have highlighted below several important points and observations from his speech. His words must be shared with the rest of the Orthodox Church and other Christians. The full text of his address is also reproduced further down.

(1) We are all in a serious battle with secularism. Christians must stand together and proclaim the True Christian faith, without alteration, without change, without revisions.

Our battle is against secularism. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for us to stand together against this enemy. This is the realignment: to stand together for the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and thence to the Bishops, without alteration, without change, without revisions; against those who would submit their faith to the current of the age, the wisdom of this world. We must stand together, and we cannot stand alone. Even the immense Roman Church is buffeted by the militant secularists, who defy authority and criticize that which they know not, and we can see in this country how increasingly fragile their unity is. [Read more...]

Chuck Colson: A Life Redeemed by Christ

Chuck Colson Redeemed by Christ by Chris Banescu –
This past weekend we lost an influential and great champion for Christ and truth. Charles W. “Chuck” Colson’s bright light is no longer in the world, but still shines on in eternity as a beacon of hope and faith for current and future generations. His legacy and example will live on in the hearts and souls of many Christians – Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant – who were inspired by his strong faith, admired his clarity of thought and vision, and were reassured by his courage and conviction.

It is fitting that he went to meet the Lord at the end of what is Bright Week for all Orthodox Christians. For during this time the Resurrection Hymn is sung at all memorial services to remind us that Christ’s Resurrection destroyed death granting us eternal life: “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”

Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Colson in person. However, I have followed his active Christian ministry and prolific commentaries with a lot of interest and admiration, often sharing his wisdom with many of our Orthodox Christian readers [Read more...]

Orthodox Christians Are Thankful for Catholic Bishops’ Defense of Religious Liberty

Cardinal Dolan and Metropolitan Jonah

Cardinal Dolan and Metropolitan Jonah

by Chris Banescu –
Orthodox Christians are thankful and grateful for the vocal and passionate public stance of Catholic Bishops and Catholic leaders who categorically oppose Obama’s HHS healthcare mandate.  Your courage in defending our constitutionally protected religious liberty is making us stronger.  Your public and uncompromising witness to Christian principles and your passionate advocacy in protecting the life of the unborn is giving us hope.

We embrace and support you as brothers in Christ and co-workers for righteousness.  As Orthodox Metropolitan Jonah stood side-by-side with Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan in praying together at this year’s March for Life , we stand in solidarity with you in demanding the repeal of the HHS mandate and in defense of the religious liberty of all Americans.

It’s impressive and inspiring to witness the speed and conviction with which Catholic Bishops and other Catholic organizations responded to the new HHS rule and denounced it as unconstitutional and immoral from the start.  On the same day the Obama administration made the announcement, January 20, 2012, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a press release declaring it unconscionable and a blatant violation of religious liberty. [Read more...]

The Gospel, The Cure for Mankind’s Suffering

Fr. Basil (my grandfather) Preaching

Fr. Basil (my grandfather) Preaching

by Chris Banescu –
Perpetual crises and suffering, societal unrest, financial emergencies, institutional dysfunction, governmental tyranny, murder and mayhem, wars, riots, terrorism, and the persecution of the righteous and innocent continues to be the “normal” state of affairs for people and countries around the world. Despite the constant assurances from most secular governments and politicians who promise us “utopia on earth” in exchange for surrendering more of our freedoms and embracing their atheistic and progressive “solutions”, things are getting worse, not better. This seems to be a persistent problem of all human civilizations throughout history, not just a defect particular to our own age. “Terrific energy is expended — civilizations are built up — excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top, and then it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down,” observed C.S. Lewis. What is the real source of this suffering and is there any hope for a cure?

It is foolishness to believe that the turmoil, economic devastation, social corruption, and societal instability happening in Greece, Egypt, England, France, Romania, other European countries, and even here in America is simply about economics, politics, education, financial mismanagement, or religious, ethnic, or cultural differences. What it is about is the catastrophic moral failure of individuals with power and influence across many organizations and institutions, especially politicians and government leaders. The immorality, vanity, arrogance, hypocrisy, selfishness, corruption, cowardice, envy, greed, and reckless disregard for the long-term safety, liberty, and well-being of the people – whom they have sworn to serve and protect – that we see in the conduct of our leaders are symptoms of what always happens when man rejects God’s truth and wisdom and tries to setup for himself an earthly “utopia” separate from Christ’s teaching. [Read more...]

The True Light of Mankind

Christ the True Light of the World and all Mankind by Chris Banescu –
As the Christmas season fades into the distance and the New Year is upon us, we tend to feel the passage of time most acutely. With the conclusion of the bright and joyous celebrations that commemorate and bear witness to the birth of the Messiah, we often experience a sense of loss, of sadness. We never seem to have enough time to fully immerse ourselves in the feast and absorb the joy and peace that our souls yearn to rediscover and embrace. It all goes by much too quickly. We find ourselves heading back towards the daily routines of our lives, feeling weary, tired, and spent. The light inside us that burned so brightly a few days ago is flickering.

In response, writes Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “come words from an infinite loftiness and an infinite profundity” from the Gospel of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist. Jesus Christ “was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name… And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:9-12, 16). [Read more...]

Men Have Forgotten God – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

by Chris Banescu

As a survivor of the Communist Holocaust I am horrified to witness how my beloved America, my adopted country, is gradually being transformed into a secularist and atheistic utopia, where communist ideals are glorified and promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are ridiculed and increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation. Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called “liberal” and “progressive” elites, God has been progressively erased from our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.

It is no coincidence that as Marxist ideologies and secularist principles engulf the culture and pervert mainstream thinking, individual freedoms and liberties are rapidly disappearing. As a consequence, Americans feel increasingly more powerless and subjugated by some of the most radical and hypocritical, least democratic, and characterless individuals our society has ever produced.

Those of us who have experienced and witnesses first-hand the atrocities and terror of communism understand fully why such evil takes root, how it grows and deceives, and the kind of hell it will ultimately unleash on the innocent and the faithful. Godlessness is always the first step towards tyranny and oppression! [Read more...]